Molecular gastronomy has become more and more popular in high-end restaurants across the country and Koerner is at the forefront of this trend as the President of John E. Koerner & Co, a specialty food distributor in the southern U.S. He works closely with chefs on developing innovative technology and travels frequently to Barcelona to bring the latest products in from Spain where the forefathers of molecular gastronomy, such as Ferran Adrìa, are working.
He started off the demonstration by showing the audience some of the inventive products available for interactive service. For example, an electric levitation kit that can be used to elevate plates, glasses, jars or any other serving dish off the table. A team of pastry chefs and astrophysicists developed the device that uses science to create a little bit of magic tableside. He also showed the audience an easy to use tool for putting any liquid, mousse, sauce or any other fluid into a tube or lipstick holder for a playful presentation.
Next, he presented a cotton candy machine that could be used with isomalt or sugar. Using flavored oils, he made coriander cotton candy, but noted that there were 197 available oils ranging from straightforward essences such as strawberry and kiwi to complex flavor profiles such as tonic water, foie gras, anchovy and even hot dogs.
But the highlight of the presentation were his techniques for “frying” and “grilling” using liquid nitrogen. The temperature of liquid nitrogen is below -300ºF and it will instantly freeze anything it comes in contact with. Koerner showed how containers of liquid nitrogen could be used on fruit, vegetables and even proteins such as prosciutto and oysters for an original and intriguing presentation. Even liquids such as olive oil, amaretto and even vodka could be frozen so they were served solid.
Koerner used a flattop “grill” placed over liquid nitrogen to make both honey and chocolate lollipops in less than a minute. Using a ladle, he made delicate cups from chocolate and crème anglaise. He noted that the cup presentation could also be done with savory sauces such as hollandaise sauce. Koerner challenged the audience to “stump the chump” and find something they couldn’t use the liquid nitrogen on. Koerner was able to use the liquid nitrogen to freeze bread, an egg and even whipped cream. Watch the video below to watch him prepare a simple dessert of whipped cream frozen in a liquid nitrogen “fryer” to resemble a churro.